We celebrated my daughter's 6th birthday last weekend. We have a typical routine for our family parties - conversation, food, and then cake. But our favorite part is at the end of the party when we show our guests the birthday video.
It's pictures and video footage of my daughter throughout the year, and it's compiled into a 10 minute DVD set to her favorite songs.
All of my daughters have a video from each year of their life - some of them better than others, but all of them capturing experiences, language, and relationships.
Each one moves me to tears, and every time I watch I feel gratitude for my girls, their experiences, our family.
My husband is in charge of making the video, and believe me, it's a labor of love. Weeks before a birthday he works late into the night, logging footage and finding photos.
I eventually join the process by choosing photos, suggesting music, and helping him find the right flow.
For as much as I tease him about his perfectionism with this process, I actually think it's beautiful. We both know how special the videos are today and how precious they will be to the girls when they get older.
But while I find joy in this process, I do not find joy in scrapbooking, keeping a baby book, or keeping a photo album of my children's milestones.
And unfortunately, I often beat myself up about not fulfilling this "parenting duty", the belief that we are supposed to capture every moment of our children's lives.
I have scattered boxes of art work, random pictures on my iPhone and hard drive, and stories in my mind, but I have yet to put them all together into something meaningful. It's the "thing" I keep putting off, the "thing" that is always on the to-do list.
But as I watched my daughter's video on Sunday, I finally let myself off the hook. I realized that these birthday videos are my scrapbook, photo album, and baby book all put together. It's our unique way of chronicling memories.
Creativity comes in many forms, and the actual definition of "creative" means doing something your own special way. Sometimes I have to chip away at "how everybody else does it" to discover the way that I like to do it.
And when I do, I realize that it doesn't have to be hard, and that joy usually indicates that I am fully offering myself and reviling in my own personal creativity.
So I woke up on Monday with some weight off my shoulders; with the realization that a perfect photo album/baby book/scrapbook is no longer on my "list" and that I have just freed myself from an unnecessary burden.
And now when I take pictures throughout the year I can simply enjoy the process rather than worry about how they will be cataloged. And if the picture is especially great, maybe it will make the cut for the annual video.
Or maybe it won't. But I am confident that there will be many others to choose from.
And we will create a great video, a video that moves me to tears.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.